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Best way to clean up a torch-cut 1/2" steel plate?

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  • Best way to clean up a torch-cut 1/2" steel plate?

    Got a piece of steel plate today, that I will use for the top of a small welding table. It is 30" x 48", and the two long sides had been torch cut by what looks like a demolition torch; e.g. pretty rough.

    There is a place about an hour away tht has a shear, that can clip off an inch from each side, and it would be a very clean cut. $20 charge. OR, I can just grind away, and get it best I can.

    What would you suggest? Cupped wheel grinder, or flap disk, or ??? Or take it to the shear?

    Want to keep costs on a budget, but still, don't want to cheap out if I can have a better looking table for not much more.

  • #2
    Shear it! $20 bucks for both sides?! ****, you'll burn up that in grinding wheels... Plus the edges will be more true and look better too

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    • #3
      $20 is cheaping out! Consider your time, wheel, electric, wear & tear on grinder and your hearing to name a few. $20 is as cheap as it gets!

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      • #4
        Shear it! You'll spend more on grinding wheels. Guaranteed!
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        • #5
          You could run a torch down a straight edge if that's an option then pretty it up with a soft wheel. But you really can't beat a $20 sheering.

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          • #6
            You could also just simply draw a line down each side, and cut correctly with a torch. Then make a quick pass over the top and bottom with a grinder to remove the slight dross.

            Cutting "correctly" with a torch means the right size tip, correct gas pressures, and a clean, sharp tip. Also a steady hand.

            Skill in torch cutting to my mind is worth just as much or more than welding skill, most "welders" showing up lately are just trigger pullers anyway. This would be good practice for the OP.

            What I suggested might not be cheaper, but when you figure in the cost of an hours drive each way,,,,, maybe it is. I certainly wouldn't drive an hour, less alone two hours, for 60" of sheared cut.
            Obviously, I'm just a hack-artist, you shouldn't be listening to anything I say .....

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            • #7
              Or know someone with a portable plasma machine/skills.

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              • #8
                JSFAB hit the nail on the head. Backup and strike a line. Free hand it. I worked in a steel shop for 7 years before my career took a turn. I worked with a 1st class fitter for the first 3 years before stepping up to 2nd class. The skilled hand with a torch saved the welders a lot of time behind the grinders and would praise you when the day was over every single day. When I went in that place I couldn't hack off rebar. Nothing I learned in vocational school worked but after some reading, some scrap, some guidance from my fitter I caught on. After that I loved it (still do). When the burn yard got behind with the tractors I was sent over there to help catch up. My tips, my torch, everything I used on the horses to burn with in the fab shop went with me. I have a chart that I used to help me with tip selection and working pressures. Got good with it, good enough that the foreman gave me the torch and 12 new tips of different sizes when i got laid off and said "you'll need this on your next adventure". I'll never forget that . I use it in the home shop now.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JSFAB View Post
                  You could also just simply draw a line down each side, and cut correctly with a torch. Then make a quick pass over the top and bottom with a grinder to remove the slight dross.

                  Cutting "correctly" with a torch means the right size tip, correct gas pressures, and a clean, sharp tip. Also a steady hand.

                  Skill in torch cutting to my mind is worth just as much or more than welding skill, most "welders" showing up lately are just trigger pullers anyway. This would be good practice for the OP.

                  What I suggested might not be cheaper, but when you figure in the cost of an hours drive each way,,,,, maybe it is. I certainly wouldn't drive an hour, less alone two hours, for 60" of sheared cut.
                  JS., I totally Agree !!!!!!
                  No way would I drive 2 hrs. when I could burn that sucker myself !

                  Norm
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                  • #10
                    I had a kid that worked for me when he was a sprout thru high school. He liked the torch and later he went to work for an excavator, first day on the job they were trying to burn some big plate and he says,,, gimme , cleaned the tip and like a shot a guy ran to the boss and said, you got to see this, ha.

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                    • #11
                      Is there a guide tip for a torch like a plasma cutter where you could ride it on a straight edge and get a good cut . I've been wondering about this .
                      Welder lives next door to me cut a lot of 20 inch pipe one time to make long water trough's for cattle in some big pens he used a flat 2 ft magnet for a guide he said they turn out pretty good .

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kpack View Post
                        Is there a guide tip for a torch like a plasma cutter where you could ride it on a straight edge and get a good cut . I've been wondering about this .Welder lives next door to me cut a lot of 20 inch pipe one time to make long water trough's for cattle in some big pens he used a flat 2 ft magnet for a guide he said they turn out pretty good .
                        I've never seen one. When I want a nice straight cut I just find something that I can drag the torch along that I don't mind burning (usually 1/2" plate). I level it with a speed square and secure it with C-clamps. Then just drag the tip down the side of it. If it's polished well you'll be able to drag the torch along it without catching on bumps. Then once it's cut just clean it up with a soft wheel (if it's a good cut, hard wheel then sort if it isn't). Leave the guide attached while you grind to get a nice clean edge.You'll have to be familiar with running a torch or else you're going to being making waves as you cut. It's not the end of the world if you make waves, it's just more that you have to do to make it right. Edit: Forgot you weren't the guy who started the thread half way through my post. I'll leave it in case he wants to read it. I've never seen a guide tip for a torch, that's not to say one doesn't exist somewhere. And on another note, a track torch would work well in this situation but I seriously doubt he has one just laying around.
                        Last edited by jdj90; 01-22-2014, 08:38 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Yes, there are lots of versions. An old Bud of mine invented a machine called a Steel Beaver that clamped any torch head in and turned by hand crank. I got a pic here somewhere where I put a caster wheel on a beam clamp to ride on a plate for a special cut.
                          Last edited by Sberry; 01-22-2014, 08:38 AM.

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                          • #14
                            I kind of posted for me and the op thought it might help and it gave me a idea . I might could take two pieces of flat for a straight edge and over lap the one on the top so the torch wouldn't burn it . thanks

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                            • #15
                              You can also use a drag-tip. It is stepped, so you put the tip directly on the plate, then once you start cutting just drag it down against the straightedge.

                              http://www.arc-zone.com/index.php?ma...29c6jvp3m76lq0

                              Although I've used these quite a bit before, I don't particularly like them. I can do a better job, make a cleaner cut, just freehanding along a line. But it is an option many people don't even know is available.
                              Obviously, I'm just a hack-artist, you shouldn't be listening to anything I say .....

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